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Before the Music Dies Review

My friend Ken Walden sent me an email a couple of days ago informing me about a screening of "Before the Music Dies". He's in the film, so for me, that's reason enough to see it. I've known Ken for most of my life, and if there's one thing Ken knows a LOT about, it's music. When he says "See this film, it's important", I listen. I listen because Ken isn't one to overhype something; when he says it's good you can pretty much take that to the bank.

I too have worked in the music industry either in a volunteer or paid position for nearly half my life, and I know that a lot has changed, even in my lifetime. The "change" I'm talking about is the commodification and marginalization of real musicians and their music, while the music "industry" has become bloated and top heavy. This trend has infected radio as well, and that is the avenue that this film has chosen to focus on.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I was surprised, amused, entertained and enlightened. A lot of the information I already know from personal experiences working in and around the music biz, but this was a really great way of summing it up and underlining it. There are a lot of great moments, but several moments come immediately to mind: Billy Preston performing with Ray Charles and dancing AND singing his ass off: I said out loud to the friend I attended with "Brittney Spears ain't got NUTHIN' on Billy".

The other memorable (though somewhat chilling) moment for me was the interview with the teen girls fresh out of a Brittney Spears/Christina Aguilera/insert-name-of-MTV-pop-star-here concert. One of the questions asked was if they were inspired by the music to do anything "No". Did they know who Bob Dylan was "No". The interviewer mentioned that his music used to inspire people to drive to Washington and protest: Blank looks. It made me sad: even though I was born in the 70's, I got enough of a dose of this 60's music history and inspiration to realize the power that music has held, and still has the potential to wield. Case in point, Immortal Technique's album "Revolutionary 2" inspired me to stop watching TV and start blogging.

On a side note, I've tried my best so far to expose my son (who's only 2.5 years old) to as much diversity in music as I can. I feel that it's one of the better gifts that I can give him: I know that I really appreciate the amount of music I was exposed to as a child, and I know it's a part of the reason I love music so much and the reason I appreciate it's breadth.

There are many phenomenal artists that I'd never heard of before in this movie, and I hope to obtain recordings of their music. These include the North Mississippi Allstars, Doyle Bramhall (who garnered thunderous praise from legendary musician Eric Clapton), Guy Forsythe (playing some of the meanest, bad-ass harmonica I've ever heard) and Calexico . Each one of their performances in the film had me scrambling for my PDA to write down their names. Incredible stuff: check it out! Also, check out the movie; it's manages to educate without being overly preachy and it's highly entertaining.

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